Much of Ms Batmanghelidjh's recent rhetoric has centred round assertions that her organisation is aimed at helping children who are suffering untold amounts of abuse in the home.
The catastrophic abandonment of children who are suffering is a testimony to our collective moral failing. I hope one day the childhood maltreatment wound, that is so deeply hurting this country, will heal.That being so, it seems odd that a posse of mothers (see Ambush Predator) has voluntarily come forward to state that their children are regular 'clients', parading for the media their anger at the loss of an organisation which, they say, provides activity holidays, homework clubs and meals for their children and 'gives them clothes'.
This last point is reminiscent of the Bristol Council employees using Council funds to buy Ralph Lauren gifts and Ugg boots for children in care; the mindset responsible can be clearly see in in the comment responding to criticism thus: " I can't believe that people on here begrudge a Christmas present for someone in a children's home".
Straw men aside, there is something flawed about the whole notion; it is not only irresponsible to use public money in this way but also surely unrealistic - if not downright immoral - to encourage a taste for and expectation of designer goods in young people who will, in the near future, have to manage a limited budget.
With that in mind, I invite you to consider the words of Camila Batmanghelidjh in an interview with the Design Museum:
The only time I buy clothes is for the children of Kids Company - many of them don't have any parents or family members. I like to buy personally for them for Christmas and their birthdays. I also buy stuff if I see something that would suit them.The scale suggests this is be paid for not out of her own pocket (funded by the charity in any case) but from donations secured for the welfare of vulnerable children. Doubtless the words 'self-esteem' will figure somewhere in the justification, given the source of these gifts:
Christmas Eve, I am usually between John Lewis and Selfridges buying everything that's in the sales...John Lewis? Selfridges? Even at sale prices, I would never have bought clothes there for my own children. Such shops are surely well beyond the (legitimate) means of most people living in the areas where Kids Company plies its trade.
...because on Christmas Day we have some 4,000* children, young people and vulnerable adults coming to us for lunch, and I like to give all the ones who don't have family a big bag of clothes as presents.How nice! And, judging by the mother bewailing the loss of free clothing on the TV news, it's not only the ones without families who benefited from this largesse. There's benefit for Ms Batmanghelidjh too; a gratifying glow of sentiment:
They get so excited when they open them, it always brings tears to my eyes.Funnily enough, my eyes are watering too at the potential cost of several hundred 'big bags of clothes' from Selfridges - to say nothing of the extra shopping trips 'for their birthdays' and impulse buys 'if I see something that would suit them'.
How many thousands a year, would you say? Perhaps a drop in Kids Company's multi-million pound ocean, but a significant one nonetheless, it serves to illustrate, however benevolent her intentions, just how impractical and naive a clothes-obsessed millionaire's daughter - 'Every day for me is a fashion treat' - can be when entrusted with other people's money.
* Really? Who does the catering? And at what cost? Or is this another example of numerical sleight-of-hand, like the still-ubiquitous assertion (included in the Design Museum piece) that Kids Company 'reaches 36,000 children a year with therapeutic care' - a figure since revealed to include the classmates, parents and teachers of any child in receipt of Kids Company services.